The blogosphere is one of the most recent and sweeping changes in modern day communication. Blogging is the simple practice of posting one’s ideas, stories, or basically anything on the internet. Through posting blogs, people are able to get their ideas heard and connect with other like-minded individuals. Blogs cover every topic under the sun—from recipes to coverage of the Iraq War. A unique aspect of blogging that has contributed to its booming popularity is the fact that anyone can blog. It’s simply a matter of getting online, visiting a blogging website, and posting a blog. There are no credentials necessary and people can write whatever they want, whether informative, accurate, or neither.
This new media has already transformed the news. Bloggers are able to instantly get news stories out to the public. Live-blogging (going out to an event and blogging as it is happening) is gaining popularity, especially while America is gearing up for the elections. The 2008 Presidential election is keeping the bloggers busy, and this is seen most clearly in video blogging. Candidates have been getting online and releasing videos for the public. You Tube is just another facet of the blogging world.
Through both print and video, people are spreading their ideas and getting their voice heard. This is making Big Media nervous. “We’ve owned the printing press for centuries; not the people have the power of the press [through blogs]. They are speaking and it’s our turn to listen and engage them in conversation” (Outing 7). The general public has taken matters into their own hands and, after the massive journalistic failures and shortcomings revealed in the Iraq war coverage, maybe it’s for the best. But blogging does compromise integrity; there are no guidelines or ramifications for lying. It is this freedom that inspires bloggers to continue—they will never be censored for saying what they believe. Also, the blogging world is a new way to find undiscovered talent. “You’ve got tens of thousands of potential columnists writing for free, fueled by passion, operating in a free market where the cream rises quickly” (Welch).
Big Media is facing a lot of problems. According to a poll conducted earlier this year, more than half of Americans say “US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate and don’t care about the people they report on” (E&P). This shows the trend of disenchantment and disinterest in mainstream media outlets. 24 news channels and newspapers are losing their credibility. They are no longer the only source for information for the people. Blogs are a way to actively engage the public; to continue examining the story even after it’s published. This interactivity is the exact thing Big Media is lacking. Corporations are interested in merging and money, whereas people are interested in stories. Blogs are much more honest and transparent, though not always more accurate. Through posting a blog, a conversation is started and the public is needing more conversation and a little less action.
While blogging is helping information get out and enabling people to get involved, it’s not always a good thing. People can post whatever they want, regardless of relevance or accuracy. There are no journalistic standards and, while this can help people get their voices heard, it can also lead to misinformation. During the 2004 Presidential election, Wonkette.com printed false rumors about John Kerry knowing that they were most likely fictitious. When asked why, bloggers stated “I publish anything because I can” (Outing). This statement shows that blogging is much more about the freedom to publish the news than the accuracy of the news. Despite the lack of regulations regarding fact-checking, blogs are often very credible and informed. They’ve been instrumental in breaking stories that big media ignores. Without the blog world and other means of communication, even such recent controversies like the Jena 6 may have stayed under the radar.
In order to learn more about the blog world, we created a blog at Talkmonkey. The goal of our blog was to encourage political debate. This format allowed us to post ideas and for other classmates to respond to these opinions and offer their insight. We tracked the blog’s growth in class and were able to see that quite a few people were looking at our blog. The experience taught me the impact that blogs could have. Simply by typing in a Google search, people can stumble upon blogs and their ideas and views can be challenged. It’s a unique environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and skepticism. These elements have been lacking in Big Media for quite sometime, and the public has responded with blogging.
Critical Theory teaches the importance of questioning the dominant paradigm. Blogs seek to fill the gaps that have been made in the fabric of media. They’re working to reclaim reason, unmask power, and contest hegemony (Brookfield). The blog world provides a free marketplace of ideas, unfettered by power and regulations. This new, independent media is both exciting and terrifying. The power of the internet is growing and blogging is at the forefront of this movement. Whether for or against it, blogging is the wave of the future.